Preparing future workers
FVTC trains Clintonville students for industrial jobs
By Bert Lehman
Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) and the Clintonville High School have teamed up to offer juniors and seniors industrial maintenance classes that prepare them for skilled worker jobs.
The FVTC courses support both the Industrial Maintenance and Automation Technology career paths. The program allows students to earn both high school and FVTC credits at the same time.
Kim Manteuffel, manager for FVTC’s Clintonville Regional Center, said the program was developed after meeting with area businesses and the school district.
“The high school was interested in having students take the classes while they were in high school,” Manteuffel said. “Businesses were interested in partnering, and then we (FVTC) would be providing the instruction and the equipment.”
The program started in September. Currently, seven Clintonville students take part in the program.
Three Clintonville businesses are involved with the program – Walker Forge, Creative Converting, and Deluxe Plastics.
“They (businesses) went out with me and helped talk to the school board about it, to get the funding we needed for it,” Manteuffel said.
She said the participating businesses met with students and gave them tours of their facilities. They also provided students with information about different careers they could pursue with the courses involved in the program.
Three of the seven students are currently employed by Walker Forge.
Program benefits students, business
With the need for skilled workers in the area, Manteuffel said the businesses have a desire to work with high school students.
“The businesses are hoping to keep those youth in the community,” Manteuffel said.
In addition to businesses finding it difficult to find skilled workers, she said they are also projecting a lot of experienced workers to retire over the next five years.
“It’s great for the students,” Manteuffel said. “So far they find it’s wonderful to have hands-on learning and it’s a skill set that they can use in the community to keep them here.”
During the first year of the program, students can earn a total of 11 college credits during the fall and spring semesters. For seniors who return for the second year of the program, they can earn an additional 10 credits over two semesters.
Students completing this two-year track will have earned an Industrial Maintenance Foundations Certificate (16 credits), and have earned an additional five credits towards the Industrial Maintenance Mechanic Technical Diploma program, Manteuffel said.
The Industrial Maintenance Foundations Certificate prepares students for positions such as an industrial maintenance worker and an industrial maintenance specialist. These jobs have salaries ranging from $11.85 to $14.61 an hour.
Manteuffel said a student who receives the 21 credits over the two years of the program, will be only five credits, or one semester, short of an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic Technical Diploma. This diploma prepares students for positions such as an industrial maintenance technician and industrial machine operator. These jobs have salaries ranging from $14.19 to $21.11 an hour.
Free tuition, books
Another benefit of the program for students is that it doesn’t cost them anything. This allows them to earn college credits and not rack up student debt.
The Clintonville School District pays for the books and tuition, Manteuffel said.
She added that FVTC also received a grant that allowed it to purchase all new equipment and laptops for the students.
The businesses who are supporting the program don’t provide financial backing. Instead, they help recruit, work with and mentor the students. They have also agreed to interview every student in the program for a job.
A month into the program, Manteuffel said students are enjoying the classes.
“The instructors are really good with the students and they respond well,” Manteuffel said. “It’s been a joy for us to have them here. They bring a whole new energy.”
She added, “Manufacturers are excited to get in and meet with them (students). Walker Forge loves having the three (students) that they have currently employed.”
Manteuffel said FVTC has met with other school districts about being part of the program, adding that Marion High School will join the program in fall 2020.
The program’s instructors will be on hand at the FVTC open house at the Clintonville campus, scheduled for Oct. 8. The equipment will also be on display.
“It’s nice if parents want to come in and find out more about this offering because we will be offering this next fall for new students,” Manteuffel said. “We want to be able to explain to them what this is.”
Also, at the open house, the $30 application fee will be waived that night for anyone who signs up who is a senior in high school or older.